Presentations – Get Set!

You’ve got something important to say and an audience that wants to hear it. How could it be any better? Setting the stage before you get there can make a big difference in how your message is received and avoid pitfalls.

1. Google the Group – Find out as much as you can about the group and the leaders before you accept the engagement. You don’t want to be surprised while you’re talking. At a comedy club in a suburban town, a young comic made assumptions. He came from a big and busy city in a different part of the country. He assumed that the audience would be parents and the women would be housewives. His fuzzy pink slippers and curlers in the hair jokes were falling flat. He shifted to jokes about the audience being asleep. A few minutes on the internet would have told them that they were in a suburb where most of the audience was young working couples. They left the stage without having gotten a single laugh. Know your audience!

2. Map It – Make sure you have directions both to and from the location. That might seem unnecessary but your return trip isn’t always as obvious as you might think. Print out the directions and make sure you put them in the car ahead of time. Review them before you leave home and review them at the location where you’re speaking before you leave the building. One speaker knew they could see the freeway they needed to be on to head home from the location but there was no entrance where they headed. Wandering around in neighborhoods with bars on the windows at ten o’clock at night is definitely not the way you want to end a successful presentation. Be sure you know how to get there and how to get back.

3. Visit the Venue – If it’s possible, go to the place you’re going to be speaking ahead of time. Get a good idea about the acoustics, the lighting, how close the audience will be, the available technology. It all makes a difference in how you interact with the audience. Will you be on a stage? Will you be at the same level as the audience? Will the audience be seated in rows that rise and give complete visibility of you and your props? Having a clear idea of how your position in the room relates to the audience can prevent wearing the wrong clothing, using body language that some people won’t be able to see, or having props that won’t work. Sit where the audience will sit and get a good idea of what and how much they will be able to see.

4. Practice with a Microphone – How many times have you been in a meeting where a speaker was introduced and offered a microphone that they declined to use and then started to talk with people in the back yelling that they couldn’t hear the speaker? If you’re speaking to a large group, use the microphone and be familiar with how it works. Know ahead of time if they’re going to have to clip something on you that will limit your movement or require some uncomfortable effort to connect it to your clothing. For a local television show, one woman wound up with her clothing so badly adjusted in the back to make the clips work that she was unable to use movements she planned and had to stand stiffly in one place. Know what’s going to impact your presentation.

5. Practice in the Clothes You’re Going to Wear – That outfit might look great in the store or on the hanger. It might not look as great in front of an audience. It’s not just whether it matches the background. Does it allow the movements you want to make to make your point? What does it look like on? How does it look when you’re moving around the stage? Check it out with a video of a practice session or in front of a mirror. Make sure that there are no odd things going on. It’s not a pretty sight when your shirt pulls up to reveal a spare tire. It might seem long enough when you’re standing still but you want to see how it behaves when you’re performing. Make sure that you know what kind of impression you’re going to make when you’re actually speaking.

6. Dress for Success – An excellent speaker arrived early at an event to check out the venue and see how her presentation would fare. Imagine her surprise when she walked in and saw that the backdrop on the stage was the same color as her planned outfit. Fortunately, there was time to make the necessary changes and show up in clothing that contrasted and allowed her dramatic movements to have the impact they were meant to have. If your presentation is going to be filmed, avoid white or bright red clothing, shiny objects, small checked fabric, or narrow stripes. You’ve seen people on TV in clothing that keeps swimming in front of your eyes and distracts you from the speaker’s message. Avoid the same mistake.

7. Ask Others Who’ve Spoken to the Group – A speaker was invited to do a business presentation to a group after one of the members heard them speak on the same topic. Both the speaker and the person who suggested them to the group were pleased about the opportunity. Ask someone else who has spoken there what their experience was like. You can start out from a win-win and find yourself going in a completely different direction pretty quickly. One speaker discovered that he was expected to remain in the seat he were escorted to when he got up to go to the bar. Two people were there immediately to escort him back. Find out if there are unwritten rules. It’s more than just clear, concise communication.

Conclusion: It pays to check out the group and the setting ahead of time. If you have that knowledge and clear, concise communication you’ve got it made!

Essentials of Negotiation

Factors that affect your ability to negotiate

Most people who are successful are masters in the art of negotiating. There are many factors that could affect a person’s ability to negotiate. You may have all the means at your disposable but if you lack these basic abilities you may not be able to negotiate the right deal. Here are a few important factors that are considered to be essential if you want to master the art of negotiation.

a) Your negotiating skills are affected by your ability to get things done. For instance when you generate competition you have better negotiating power. You ability to get things done will be affected by your attitude, expertise, persistence and persuasion. When negotiating it is important that you get many people agree to you. When you have majority with you, it is easier to negotiate. When negotiating it is important that you take calculated risks but avoid taking stupid risk. When you take calculated risks you gain power to negotiate a better deal.

b) The time you have also plays an important role when negotiating. Usually, the party that has more time in hand has an advantage when negotiating. When negotiating never let the other party how important and urgent the matter is. You have to maintain you’re cool and always appear to be calm. You may have a deadline but never let the other person know your deadline.

c) When negotiating it is important that you have all the possible information. Do your research before you begin the negotiations. When you get any new information, make sure you act on information you receive. Keep your eyes and ears open as it will help you pick up some clues from the behaviour of the other party. There response to a situation will help you get valuable information.

Mayday Mayday! Time to Abort the Negotiating Mission, Or is It?

Should you walk away from the negotiating table? If so, when? According to Jim Camp, expert negotiator, you should walk way when the negotiation is no longer in line with your mission and purpose.

In Camp’s opinion, simply walking away as a tactic to get the other party to capitulate is not an effective way of negotiating. It falls under the category of “tactic” or “technique” and thus is not principle-driven and therefore vulnerable.

First, you must start with a mission and purpose to your negotiation. If you are aiming to gain a client for your consulting service and you have a set amount that you want to receive as payment for these services, then your mission is to complete the negotiation with the purpose of helping the other party see the value of what you are offering.

As long as things are moving forward, then there is no reason to walk away or to threaten to walk away.

However, if things get to a point where you don’t think there is any chance of continuing toward the accomplishment of the mission, you can at that point abort the negotiation.

How can you tell the difference between a simple roadblock that can be overcome and a real deal-breaker?

You must have a very clear idea of what it is that you are willing to be flexible with and what it is that you will not negotiate. For example, you may have a certain price that you are sticking to, but you may be flexible with how the payment is made, whether at one time or over a course of installments.

If you come across an issue that asks you to compromise on your original mission and there is no way around it, you may walk away.

In this case, something strange may happen. Since you are walking away on principle and not as a tactic, the walk-away may actually work as intended to by those using it as a tactic. The other party will see that this is a part of your mission that really is non-negotiable and if they find value in what you are offering, they may re-evaluate their own mission and find that the amount that you are asking is in fact worth paying.

The difference here is honesty. Don’t try to circumvent honesty by trying to walk away as a tactic. The opposition will see this and you will not achieve what it is that you are trying to achieve.